Types of Baths

The bath is a necessity as well as being a luxury item, as such there are great deal of factors that need to be considered when choosing or specifying the bath type.

What is a Bath Made of?

Baths are nowadays generally made of acrylic or porcelain on steel. As previously mentioned with other fittings porcelain on steel is very strong, self-supporting and scratch resistant but if hard objects are dropped on it, it will chip. Acrylic is a softer substance but treated correctly is also very good. Sanitary grade acrylic has excellent heat retention properties, will not rust and resists chipping.

What is the baths capacity compared to the Hot Water Cylinder’s capacity or heating time?

If you are having a large bath or a number of baths in the home then you must consider where all the hot water is going to come from. Size the bath to the system or size the recovery and capacity of the hot water system to the amount of fittings using the systems and in particular the bath. Baths contain water of about 230 litres upwards. When you specify the bath confirm the size of the hot water cylinder, if the home uses that cylinder system, or with a gas instant system you can use as much water as you like. You won’t use the full amount of the bath with hot water obviously but you will need to talk to your plumber and the fitting merchant about the capacity of the system. They will advise you correctly without you having to make the decision with limited knowledge.

Is it a spa type of bath and what features do I need to know about?

Spa baths are relatively new to the plumbing world, only available for the last 20 years or so, and as such are developing rapidly. The systems for these baths improve each year.You need to note the placement of the jets. Are they adjustable? Are the jets able to be moved and are they able to be reduced or increased in capacity. Are they purely water or air or a mixture of both?

An oval spa bath with central spout and the mixer wall mounted.
An oval spa bath with central spout and the mixer wall mounted.

Is the system heated or is it just recirculation. Some systems have a heater built into the reticulation as the circulation of the water will cool it more quickly than if still. Are the controls electronic or manual?

This is purely a convenience factor. Is there a dirt filter in the system? Remember when you purchase or specify a spa bath all of these factors have to be taken into consideration.

A spa bath is a luxury item with numerous choices available to the end user. It is not like a wc cistern, which is mainly a functional fitting.

Is the bath ergonomically designed, if so to what extent?

The bath needs to be examined and ascertained as to how user friendly it is. If an elderly person is to use the bath does it have handles, are the sides high or is it recessed into the floors that it’s easy to get into the bath. Is there a headrest? Is the bath well contoured to fit a body or is it relying on the body to “float in the water”.

How will the person access the bath and where will the control valves or taps and spout be positioned. If the bath is to be recessed into a space, as is often the case in a compact bathroom you need to be able to access the taps without having to stretch across the bath.

The spout or faucet should also be in a position that allows water to be added conveniently if the person is using the bath. For example in a long single person bath the spout should be at the end by the feet however in a two-person bath perhaps it should be central.
The sizes and shapes of baths today are vast but here are some sizes to use as a guide.

Single Person – 1500-1675 mm long and 760mm wide overall
Double Person – 1675 mm long minimum and 760mm wide overall
Triangular- 1500 mm per side minimum

How heavy will the bath be when full?

As a safety measure, if it is a very large bath going into an old house it would be a sensible idea to confirm the weight when its full and the point load (determined by your engineer or qualified builder) to confirm that it is not going to stress that part of the floor.

Floor drain in vinyl floor.

Floor drain in vinyl floor.

Does the bath have an overflow?

If the bath is upstairs and there is no floor drain then this is a vital feature.
A formed acrylic bath with armrests and spaces for soap.

A formed acrylic bath with armrests and spaces for soap.

What type of bath is it?

This may seem a strange question but what we are referring to here is, if it is sunken, free standing with feet, or set into a joinery unit or with a shroud surrounding the sides of the bath. With these factors in consideration you need to be aware of the appearance if it is on it’s own feet. For example a claw footed bath will need the underside to be finished to suit the room.

  • Another consideration to take into account is the underside of the bath, is it insulated or does it need insulation?
  • Does the bath have soap holders and where are they positioned? Is the bath able to have tapware attached to it?
  • Is there enough of a lip or a designated area around the edge of the bath for the type of tapware that you want to use?
  • Does the bath have an anti slip base for grip when getting in and out of it?
  • If you are using the bath combined with the shower (overhead) ensure that the bath has a wide flat base with preformed grip or contours for grip in it.